“You see him?! See him?!?” I cannot help but get overly excited when sight fishing in the marsh. It is even more gratifying spreading my addiction to those that have never experienced it. For those of you that don’t know what sight fishing is, it is literally canvasing water that is clear enough to actually spot the fish. I primarily target redfish when sight fishing. Once spotted the angler attempts to make a cast and present the lure or fly in a manner that entices the fish to eat it, which can be much easier said than done. It is more of a combination of both hunting and fishing.
A solid redfish sight-casted to in gin clear water
At times redfish can be extremely spooky in the shallow clear waters of the marsh. Something as inconspicuous as the shadow from your line may spook them. A couple tips to help increase your chances of success when sight casting to redfish in the marsh: attempt to present your lure or fly either perpendicular to the direction the fish is facing or quartered to the fish; avoid presenting a lure or fly head-on to the fish or from behind the fish; if you’re getting follows but no “eats,” change colors/size of lure or fly; give the fish an opportunity, if possible, to adjust it’s position to allow you the best opportunity for a good presentation (tough to be this patient sometimes!).
Another solid fish landed on the fly
When teaching others to spot redfish I always recommend to not look for the “whole fish.” Rather, I recommend looking for a few key features. Looking for movement in the water is probably the easiest to spot, whether that is a wake, a tailing fish or a “flash” from the fish beneath the surface as well as swirls. Another key feature to look for is their pectoral fins. Many times they will be extended offering a combination of white/orange color to spot. Lastly, I recommend looking for their “glow” or color. Often times, especially if the water is a little more murky than clear, we will see an orange/red glow under the surface. When casting at a “glow” it is important to determine which way the fish is facing first prior to attempting to make a presentation.
Brittany recently joined me on a trip for her first ever sight fishing experience, she may be even more addicted than myself now! She quickly went from basically not being able to spot any fish whatsoever to pointing out and identifying redfish, spotted gar, alligator gar, mullet, bass and crabs. She also managed to land the largest fish she has ever caught to date, a beautiful 18lb redfish that engulfed Egret’s new Zombie Walker top water! We weighed the fish and snapped a few pictures before sending it back on its way. She’s already asked if it is ok for her to join on every customer trip so she doesn’t have to miss out on any fishing, I believe she may be just a little hooked!
Brittany with her largest fish ever to date, landed on Egret’s new Zombie Walker
Pretty easy to spot when they’re glowing like this!
The majority of my sight fishing for redfish takes place on the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is open for recreational fishing from March 15 to October 15 of every year. It consists of 124,511 acres of pristine marsh environment that offers the outdoor enthusiast an ample amount of opportunities. The clearest water is found early on in the spring while the marsh grasses are the most prolific. However, I would not recommend attempting to traverse the refuge without the guidance of someone who is knowledgeable about the area. If you try and do it on your own make sure and read up on the rules and regulations for the refuge. I would also encourage examining a map closely prior to your trip as well as make sure and keep a “trail” on your GPS so you can find your way back out! Not doing so might end up resulting in a long night with the mosquitoes and ‘gators.
My oldest brother, Brian Jaynes, hooked up with his first ever redfish on fly
As with any sport, the more you sight fish the better you will become at it. Your casting will improve as well as your ability to spot your quarry. Please be respectful of the resource and refrain from “burning” in the marsh.